Last month I wrote about my school’s initial experiences moving 1-2-1 with Chromebooks. So many Teacher Leaders replied with helpful questions, comments and resource suggestions. From one reader, I learned about ditchthattextbook.com, which has provided even more tools and ideas. Over Winter Break, the site is hosting a FREE Digital Summit December 16-24. To sign-up, participants complete a simple form and are emailed links to a new discussion/presentation (including notes and a certificate of completion) each day. So far, I have watched three videos, and I am so inspired! Read on to learn more about these initial resources.
This presenter has a number of titles including elementary teacher and curriculum coach, Skype Master Teacher, and Global Teacher Prize Finalist. In his conversation with ditchthattextbook.com founder Matt Miller, he discusses a number of topics of personal interest to me. First, he teaches in a district in rural Pennsylvania not unlike my own in that his students are, by and large, economically disadvantaged and are really in a position to have their worldviews expanded by the technological experiences he provides. Through Skype, Soskil is able to bring scientists, artists, social do-gooders and other teachers and classes into his classroom, and from these experiences, his students are inspired to give back in incredible ways. He describes how a Skype cultural exchange with a school in Nairobi turned into two service projects for his students after they saw the conditions of the school and said, “We need to do something about this.” Providing tips for teachers trying to justify this type of work as well as ideas for getting started, Soskil’s presentation is timely inspiration for me as I ponder project-based learning options for my English students. I’m already looking at ways to incorporate a Skype Virtual Field Trip in January.
Interested but don’t have time to watch? Here is a notes pdf for his presentation.
Former ELA teacher and current digital learning consultant, speaker, and blogger as well as founder of shakeuplearning.com, Kasey Bell is about all things Google. Most of this discussion is a timely review of the G-Suite for Education (formerly known as Google Apps for Education), as I have developed some habits and routines that need a shake-up. I particularly appreciate hearing about new uses for Slides including a bit about layering images. Google Drawings has been something of a mystery to me, and so it is also helpful to hear about classroom uses for that application. This is another image creation tool worth exploring. Perhaps most exciting to me, is a small tip regarding a Google Classroom addition that I haven’t yet noticed and explored–the About tab allows teachers to post class materials for students to easy access at any time. In the past, I have had a website for this purpose but have moved away from that in recent years. I am excited to have some of the templates and materials we always use all in one place for students again. Brilliant! Miller and Bell close by discussing the different Google Certifications available. I just completed the Level 1 Educator test and will begin work on Level 2 soon. It was helpful to know some more specifics about the various options.
Again, interested but don’t have time to watch? Here is a notes pdf for this presentation.
Some readers like myself may know Alice Keeler as another Google guru as she is the author of two books I have recently spent some perusing–50 Things You Can Do with Google Classroom and 50 Things to Go Further with Google Classroom: A Student-Centered Approach. A former high school math teacher and mother of five school-aged children, Keeler currently teaches in the education department at CSU Fresno. Her blog (alicekeeler.com) and youtube videos were extremely helpful to me when I started exploring the Google Apps. This discussion is less about all of that, however, and more about homework. Miller and Keeler are now collaborating on a book titled Ditch That Homework, and here they present a variety of reasons for why they believe homework is not worth the effort and stress it often produces. Much of their reasoning centers on time; the time it takes to do the work, check if the work was done, review the work, collect the work, grade the work, etc. They argue that the time won back from discontinued homework leads to more productive and meaningful learning, and I find what they have to say compelling. Though many of their examples relate to math, I see applicability in English as well. I just struggle with how to get through a novel without assigning some of it to be read at home. The second half of the presentation is most beneficial as they explicitly describe some different ways technology can ease the teacher burden and help with timely feedback. I am now pondering ways to improve some of my homework practices.
Again, here is a notes pdf if you are interested.
Each of these discussions has left my mind reeling in consideration of the possibilities. My spirit is rejuvenating, and I can’t wait to see what is upcoming! If these appeal to you, check them out soon as they are only available until December 31.
* I am not sure if these links will work for everybody. If not, try going through ditchhthattextbook.com.
Cover photo by Pexels, labeled for reuse.